A new report by the Washington-based Urban Institute Health Policy Center has said that an estimated 5 million uninsured children in the United States who were eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) were not enrolled in either plan. The report comes as the backdrop to U.S. President Barack Obama signing a landmark healthcare reform into law in March and providing health care to all Americans a top priority of his administration.

The study by the Urban Institute Health Policy Center was published in the journal Health Affairs. It recommended policy reforms and broader efforts to get these uninsured children into government medical programs. It suggested the use of income tax data for automatic enrollment.

The report also said that 7.3 million children were uninsured on an average day in 2008 of which 65% were eligible for Medicaid or CHIP coverage. 39% of the eligible uninsured children live in just three states -- California, Texas and Florida. It added that more than half of the nation's children live in these states. Medicaid is the joint state-federal health plan for the poor, disabled and elderly. CHIP provides low-cost coverage for children in families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private health insurance coverage.

The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement that the new data will help to focus efforts and grant funding where they are most needed. We now have a much better sense of where most uninsured children live, and which communities may need more help,she added